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One of my favorite rituals after beating a FromSoftware game – whether it be Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or Elden Ring – is starting again and tackling the entire thing with a friend. These games are notoriously challenging, but by the second playthrough, you already know the world and enemies intimately. Bringing a friend along who knows it just as well makes this second run at the game a breeze, allowing you to take your frustrations out on the world that turned your knuckles white.

But despite it being easier with a pal, it’s still a complete pain in the ring because of how multiplayer works in these games. To play with a friend, you both have to be around the same strength, and you have to call them into your game via a summon sign. Now, in the older games like Dark Souls, there was also another barrier – the one who was doing the summoning had to be in human form, which is lost upon every single death. You can recover your human form by using finite items or by defeating a boss

A warrior faces off against a dragon in Dark Souls.

On top of all that, sometimes the summon sign just wouldn’t show in your instance of the game. “Honestly, mate, I put it right at the foot of the stairs, next to the putrid corpse. No, not that putrid corpse, the other one with the spear sticking out of its mouth. Still nothing? OK, I’ll place it down again. Ah, balls, I moved slightly too far and it removed my sign. What do you mean you accidentally pressed dodge and rolled off the map and now you need to recover your human form again?” The process is as fun as fighting Ornstein and Smough in a garden shed.

With the more recent Elden Ring, it’s much more straightforward. There’s no worrying about recovering your human form, and you can also set password to make it more likely that your summon sign will show up in your friend’s world. Yes, there is still an item you must use to be able to see summon signs, but they’re infinite and you can buy them in shops or even craft them from a plant you can find in abundance all over the open world.

Playing Elden Ring in co-op is brilliant. It’s as if you both become the annoying mobs, both of you going ham with a seven-foot sword. Bliss. There’s little else in games that’s as satisfying as jumping into a dragon’s face and clubbing it in the head as your friend pokes at its ankles with a saber. It almost becomes a Monster Hunter game.

General Radahn in Elden Ring.

But it’s still a pain in the ass. Only one of you makes any progress when you team up, so there’s an element of yo-yo-ing. You’ll fight your way to a boss, beat it down, then you are transported back to your own world where the boss is unkilled. Then your friend has to travel back to you and repeat the process again. Oh, and you can’t travel on horseback when you’re with a co-op partner. Sure, it’s streamlined compared to FromSoftware’s older games, but you still need a Master’s degree in shithousery to stomach it.

I’d like it if the next Souls-like game had a proper drop-in, drop-out co-op system where you simply join your friend’s game and play together until you decide not to. Any progress you make is shared across both profiles. That’s it. That’s all I want. There aren't enough good co-op games

I can already see the people complaining in the comments about it ruining the fantasy of FromSoftware’s worlds, which are haunted by the phantoms of other players, tying the single-player and multiplayer together in the story, but I have four words for those people: try finger, but hole. We’ve been screwing around with FromSoftware’s worlds from the start, and if you can live with reading 100 messages that just say “dog” placed next to every turtle, you can live with me choosing the “co-op” option from the main menu.